WBEZ | Lookingglass Theatre Company http://www.wbez.org/tags/lookingglass-theatre-company Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Daily Rehearsal: Victory Gardens replaces 'Chicago is Burning' with 'Mojada', set in Pilsen http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/daily-rehearsal-victory-gardens-replaces-chicago-burning-mojada-set <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pp-mojada.png" style="height: 375px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="'Mojada'" /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>-&nbsp;Victory Gardens Theater&nbsp;is replacing <em>Chicago is Burning</em></strong></span></span>, the last production <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-21/daily-rehearsal-el-doctorow-discuss-march-97512">of their 2012-13 season</a>, with a new play by Associate Artist Luis Alfaro, entitled <em>Mojada</em>. According to the theater, it sounds as though Marcus Gardley&#39;s <em>Chicago is Burning</em> just wasn&#39;t quite done gestating: &quot;Victory Gardens intends to find the appropriate time to present&nbsp;Gardley&rsquo;s play&nbsp;when it&nbsp;is ready for production.&quot; <em>Mojada </em>is described as &quot;a breathtaking reimagining of&nbsp;Euripides&#39;&nbsp;<em>Medea&nbsp;</em>transported to&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s Pilsen neighborhood.&quot; As of now, <a href="http://victorygardens.org/enhance/calendar_Jul13.php">their schedule</a> has not been updated, but at left is the new production&#39;s artwork.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Never fear: <a href="https://www.theaterwit.org/tickets/productions/99/performances#top">Theater Wit</a> </strong></span></span>is of course bringing back <em>The Santaland Diaries</em> for the ninth year in a row.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>-&nbsp;Lookingglass has extended&nbsp;<em>Metamorphoses </em></strong></span></span>for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/daily-rehearsal-its-getting-be-spooky-season-103077">a second time</a>, through the holidays.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- &quot;Not-for-profit theaters </strong></span></span>contributed nearly $1.94 billion to the US economy and attracted 34 million attendees, <a href="http://www.lastagetimes.com/2012/10/tcg-report-nonprofit-theatres-on-the-rebound/">according to&nbsp;<em>Theatre Facts 2011</em></a>.&quot; Additionally, the report indicates that theaters gained an audience of 3 million between 2010 and 2011, and income increased over 15 percent. Read more at the link.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Fri, 02 Nov 2012 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-11/daily-rehearsal-victory-gardens-replaces-chicago-burning-mojada-set Daily Rehearsal: Bruce Norris revokes rights to 'Clybourne Park' for German theater http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/daily-rehearsal-bruce-norris-revokes-rights-clybourne-park-german <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>-&nbsp;Steppenwolf&#39;s excited</strong></span></span> because&nbsp;<em>Who&rsquo;s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?</em> has been extended on Broadway through February 24, 2013.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- The&nbsp;2013 Lookingglass <em>gglassquerade </em></strong></span></span>(woah.) will be hosted by Stephen Colbert on March 2, 2013 at 6 pm at the Four Seasons.&nbsp;&ldquo;The fact that Stephen is uncannily brilliant, desperately funny, and irritatingly good-looking is not particularly important, or something we should hold against him (but we do so anyway),&rdquo; said&nbsp;Artistic Director Andrew White, who went on to remind us that Colbert has had a long relationship with the theater. He&#39;ll also be getting a&nbsp;Lookingglass Civic Engagement Spirit Award.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- All <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/daily-rehearsal-its-getting-be-spooky-season-103077">those Halloween show</a></strong></span></span> options have a lot of reviews, <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/halloween-shows-at-various-venues/Content?oid=7626343">courtesy of the <em>Reader</em></a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- For some humor, </strong></span></span>check out these <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23theatricalsitcoms&amp;src=hash">#theatricalsitcoms</a>, trending on Twitter. My personal favorite: &quot;Everybody Hates Hamlet.&quot; The internet party <a href="https://twitter.com/HESherman/status/258981743955152896">was launched by Howard Sherman</a>, unsurprisingly.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bruce%20blackface.jpg" style="float: left; height: 168px; width: 280px; " title="(Screenshot of the petition Against Black-Face Roles in German Theatre)" /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Bruce Norris released <a href="http://www.dramatistsguild.com/eventseducation/latestmedia.aspx">an open letter</a> </strong></span></span>via the Dramatist&#39;s League over a German theater company&#39;s decision to cast a white woman wearing blackface in a production of his play <em>Clybourne Park</em>.&nbsp;&quot;When we write plays, among other things, we are creating employment for working actors, and often we intend to employ a specific diverse body,&quot; writes Norris. &quot;Whatever rationale the German theatre establishment might offer for their brazenly discriminatory practice is of no interest to me.&quot; The entirety of his letter is worth a read, as is&nbsp;Kenneth Jones&#39; of Playbill, which includes&nbsp;<a href="http://www.playbill.com/news/article/171262-Pulitzer-Winner-Bruce-Norris-Retracts-Rights-to-German-Troupes-Clybourne-Park-Over-Blackface-Casting/pg2">some helpful context</a>&nbsp;as to how different theaters that may or may not have access to a diverse group of actors to cast in their productions make do. Additionally, the Guild explained their thought process behind publishing the letter:&quot;While we do not, as a general matter, allow members to use the Guild&rsquo;s communications network to advocate for their particular views, we are making this statement and petition available to the membership because it relates directly to an author&rsquo;s right of casting approval, which is a critical right reserved to authors and one at the heart of the Guild&rsquo;s purpose in advocating for authorial ownership and control of their work.&quot; You can sign the petition <a href="http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Against_BlackFace_Roles_in_German_Theatre/?crleCdb">&quot;Against Black-Face Roles in German Theatre</a>&quot; at the link</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 12:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/daily-rehearsal-bruce-norris-revokes-rights-clybourne-park-german Daily Rehearsal: 'SNL' taps three Chicagoans for new season http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-snl-taps-three-chicagoans-new-season-102317 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cecily strong.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Cecily Strong" /><span style="font-size: 14px; "><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Proving once again that Chicago</strong></span></span> is your city on the hill for comedy, Cecily Strong, Tim Robinson and Aidy Brant have joined the cast of <em>Saturday Night Live</em>. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/meet-snls-newest-cast-members">Buzzfeed catches you up</a> on the talented trio, if you haven&#39;t seen them performing in the usual spread of&nbsp;Second City, Annoyance Theater and iO. The new season starts this Satruday night.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- &quot;For the first 35 hours they&rsquo;re on sale,</strong></span></span> tickets to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago&rsquo;s 2012&ndash;2013 season performances at the Harris Theater are $35.&quot; This offer starts on Thursday at 9 am; use the <a href="http://hubbardstreetdance.com">code &quot;35&quot; online</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Did <a href="http://openstreetschicago.org/"><em>Open Streets</em></a></strong></span></span> get in your way when traveling downtown this weekend?&nbsp;<em>Open Streets</em> event shuts down traffic in the Loop on Sept. 8</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tim robinson.jpg" style="float: right; " title="Tim Robinson" /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; ">-&nbsp;<strong>Some theater companies</strong></span></span> are offering entertainment options for those affected by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-union-dont-take-it-out-kids-102310">this week&#39;s teachers strike</a>. <a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org">Lookingglass </a>is offering drama workshops for 5 to 13 year olds from 9 am to 3 pm, though the classes are $65 a day.&nbsp;&ldquo;Lookingglass has long been a resource that provides quality arts-based alternatives for students &ndash; we have a history of partnering with schools and other non-profit organizations to provide residencies and after-school programs, in addition to our well-known classes and camp programs,&quot; said&nbsp;Artistic Director Andrew White in a statement.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/aidy bryant.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Aidy Bryant" />If you&#39;re interested in free things, Court Theatre lets CPS students (and one parent or guardian) into their production of <em>Jitney </em>this Thursday at 10:30 am. Just bring your CPS ID to the theater -- though its recommended that this activity be fore those above 13.&nbsp;&ldquo;Every year Court Theatre invites thousands of CPS students to attend our productions as part of its educational outreach programs,&quot; said Executive Director&nbsp;Stephen Albert. &quot;Despite the strike, we want Court to remain a place where students, teachers and parents can benefit from and enjoy classic theatre.&quot; (This last one is only happening if the strike is still happening Thursday.)</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-snl-taps-three-chicagoans-new-season-102317 Daily Rehearsal: Lookingglass plans a day of 'Eastland' remembrance http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/daily-rehearsal-lookingglass-plans-day-eastland-remembrance-100982 <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Ralphie May is back</strong></span></span> and he&#39;s performing at Zanies in St. Charles. It was also brought to my attention that the St. Charles location is at the Pheasant Run Resort. If everyone else knew and appreciated this already, I apologize for being late to the party. Anyway, the show is one-night-only on August 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; ">- Raven Theatre&#39;s welcoming new ensemble members:&nbsp;</span></span></strong>Michael Boone,&nbsp;Cathy Bowren,&nbsp;Cody Estle,&nbsp;Jason Huysman,&nbsp;Teri McCaskill,&nbsp;Sophia Menendian,&nbsp;Jen Short,&nbsp;John Weagly,&nbsp;Antione Pierre Whitfield&nbsp;and&nbsp;Kristen Williams.<strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; ">&nbsp;</span></span></strong>Additionally, ensemble member and&nbsp;Director of Education &amp; Outreach Kelli Strickland has won the DeVos Institute Fellowship. She&#39;ll be in D.C. for nine months at the Kennedy Center.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/070912_Eastland_MustClose.jpg" style="height: 137px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="" />-&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lookingglasstheatre.org"><strong>Lookingglass </strong></a>and the <strong>Eastland Disaster Historical Society</strong>&nbsp;are observing the anniverary of the actual Eastland disaster on July 21. &quot;The day will open with the annual wreath laying commemoration event on the Chicago River between Clark and LaSalle; the cast of <em>Eastland: A New Musical</em> will perform two musical numbers during the event and the U.S. Coast Guard will lay flowers on the site.&nbsp; Following the ceremony, Lookingglass will host a reception and program, featuring speaker Alberta Adamson from the Wheaton History Center, at Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Ave.&nbsp; Discussions will follow both the matinee and evening performances; descendants and relatives of those impacted by the disaster are expected to attend and participate.&quot; This sounds...intense.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- &quot;You can afford your own Crowns</strong></span></span>,&quot; Hot Tix tells me in an email. Cool!</p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong><span style="font-size: 14px; ">-&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tmsmail.us/t?r=1163&amp;c=507417&amp;l=119528&amp;ctl=1410847:4DE4A83246006CB44E56862546BBA083033AABF93247C536&amp;" target="_blank">The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago</a></span></strong></span>&nbsp;is opening&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.tmsmail.us/t?r=1163&amp;c=507417&amp;l=119528&amp;ctl=1410842:4DE4A83246006CB44E56862546BBA083033AABF93247C536&amp;" target="_blank">Voices of Strength</a>&nbsp;</em>in September, &quot;celebrating the stylistic diversity and talent of African women artists.&quot;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/daily-rehearsal-lookingglass-plans-day-eastland-remembrance-100982 Daily Rehearsal: E.L. Doctorow to discuss 'The March' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-21/daily-rehearsal-el-doctorow-discuss-march-97512 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-21/File:TheMarchBookCover.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Upcoming comics at Zanies </strong></span></span>from March through May: Kevin Bozeman, Jake Johannsen, Greg Proops, Doug Benson, Rob Little, Bret Ernst, Cameron Esposito &amp; Adam Burke co-headlining, Jared Logan, John Roy and Mike Vecchione. Men.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2.&nbsp;Lookingglass' 25th anniversary season </strong></span></span>has, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-15/daily-rehearsal-metamorphoses-returns-lookingglass-after-decades-96">as announced before, <em>Metamorphoses</em></a>. There will also be <em>Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo</em> and <em>Still Alive</em>. And David Schwimmer will direct the world premiere of Keith Huff's <em>Big Lake Big City</em>; Huff wrote <em>A Steady Rain</em>.&nbsp;“It’s both thrilling and apt that in our 25th&nbsp;Anniversary Season we’re serving up a quintessential Lookingglass feast for our audiences and artists," said Artistic Director Andrew White in a statement. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/File%3ATheMarchBookCover.jpeg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 200px; height: 300px; " title=""><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-01/teatro-vista-new-york-and-chicago-honors-84628">Remember when</a> the Goodman and Teatro Vista</strong></span></span> did <em>El Nogalar</em> which became a big deal? Now they're trying to recapture the magic with<em> Fish Man</em> by Puerto Rican playwright&nbsp;Cándido Tirado’s. It's a "new comedic drama about a group of urban chess hustlers drawn together by a shared need to overcome their individual demons." This is all part of the three-year producing partnership between the two theater companies. It opens April 7.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Victory Gardens has announced their 2012-13 season</strong></span></span>. They say: "The season will include&nbsp;<em>Equivocation</em>&nbsp;by Bill Cain, directed by Sean Graney;&nbsp;<em>Failure: A Love Story</em>&nbsp;by Phillip Dawkins, directed by Seth Bockley;&nbsp;<em>Disconnect</em>&nbsp;by Anupama Chandrasekhar, directed by Dexter Bullard;<em>&nbsp;The Whale</em>&nbsp;by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Joanie Schultz; and&nbsp;<em>Chicago is Burning</em>&nbsp;by Marcus Gardley, directed by Chay Yew." Ideas of home is the theme.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>5. As part of their plan to put up <em>The March</em></strong></span></span>, Steppenwolf will have an evening of discussion with E.L. Doctorow himself and Frank Galati. It's April 16 at 7 pm. One conversation that you might not want to miss.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 21 Mar 2012 18:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-21/daily-rehearsal-el-doctorow-discuss-march-97512 Daily Rehearsal: Theater Hall of fame nominees announced http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-25/daily-rehearsal-theater-hall-fame-nominees-announced-95827 <p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <em>Mamma Mia!</em>, which runs in Chicago</strong></span></span> through January 29, had an inexplicable full length performance of a song broadcast on CLTV today. What song was it? Well we keep those TVs on mute so I can actually get some work done, so I couldn't tell you, but everyone was wearing the same jeans and bejeweled <em>Mamma Mia!</em> t-shirts.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. <em>A Chorus Line</em> at Paramount -- yay or nay?</strong></span></span> "Although director-choreographer Mitzi Hamilton...has wisely toned down the snarkiness of the all-powerful, largely in-the-shadows director, Zach (played here with appealing naturalism by Luis Perez, a former Joffrey Ballet principal dancer), the show conforms to the basic parameters," <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/10132730-421/iconic-chorus-line-showing-its-age.html">writes Hedy Weiss</a>. Is this a good thing? I guess so.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. <em>Mr. Ricky</em> at Lookingglass</strong></span></span> has a couple panel discussions hosted by WBEZ folk; this Sunday's&nbsp;<em>Game-Changers: Paul Robeson, Joe Louis, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Branch Rickey, &amp; Jackie Robinson is moderated by Natalie Moore</em>. And February 5th's panel will be moderated by Alison Cuddy; it's called&nbsp;<em>The Speed of Change: Revolution or Evolution?&nbsp;</em></p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. Albany Park Theater's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aptpchicago.org/whats-on/homeland-schedule.php"><em>Homeland </em></a>sold out</strong></span></span> its first run, and has been extended. You can join the waiting list for the upcoming shows, or buy actual tickets to shows February 25 through the weekend of March 10.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Theater Hall of Fame nominees</strong></span></span> have been announced: see the fancy internet invite <a href="http://www.theaterhalloffame.org/events.html">below</a>. They'll be honored this coming Monday at the Gershwin Theatre.</p><table style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-family: 'Times New Roman',Times,serif; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-size: x-small;" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="2" width="422"><tbody><tr><td><div align="center"><font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">Tyne Daly</font><br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif"><em>actor</em></font><br> <br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">Woodie King Jr.</font><br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif"><em>producer</em></font><br> <br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">Elliot Martin</font><br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif"><em>producer</em></font><br> <br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">Ann Roth</font><br> <em><font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif">costume designer</font></em></div></td><td width="10" nowrap="nowrap"><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"></td><td><div align="center"><font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">Paul Sills (posthumously)</font><br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif"><em>director</em></font><br> <br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">Daniel Sullivan</font><br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif"><em>director</em></font><br> <br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">Ben Vereen</font><br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif"><em>actor</em></font><br> <br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif" size="+1">George White</font><br> <font face="Times New Roman, Times, serif"><em>producer</em></font></div></td></tr></tbody></table><p><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"></p><p><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"></p><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"><p><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"></p><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"><p><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"></p><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"><spacer type="block" width="10" height="32"><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 25 Jan 2012 19:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-25/daily-rehearsal-theater-hall-fame-nominees-announced-95827 What you probably didn't know about the Great Chicago Fire http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-07/what-you-probably-didnt-know-about-great-chicago-fire-92890 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-06/greatfire1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>The 140th Anniversary of the Chicago Fire is this Saturday. Not-so-coincidentally, Lookingglass Theatre Company's production of </em>The Great Fire<em> is running at the same time. WBEZ asked a member of the crew, and amateur history buff, <a href="http://ariclouse.tumblr.com/">Ari Clouse</a> to tell us a bit about the production and what we might not know about the fire that shaped Chicago history.</em></p><p>My favorite moments working run crew for Lookingglass Theatre's&nbsp;<a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/the_great_fire"><em>The Great Fire</em></a>&nbsp;are when&nbsp;I'm up in the catwalk. Hiding in the dark, dressed in all black, I drop "cinders" -- little red pieces of felt-- on the stage, cued by the stage manager, Kathleen, on headset. I get a great view of the entire theater&nbsp;up there, so once I've grown weary of seeing the same scene performance after performance, I watch a&nbsp;different one -- the audience's reaction. The play is based on real people and events that occurred&nbsp;during Chicago's greatest disaster. Throughout previews and opening, there's been one character who is&nbsp;a clear crowd favorite: James Hildreth (excuse me, Alderman James Hildreth), played with relish by&nbsp;Cheryl Lynn Bruce.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-06/greatfire1.jpg" title="Lookingglass' 'The Great Fire' (Photo by Sean Williams)" width="500" height="333"></p><p>Hildreth's story is compelling because he's a total badass. He single-handedly devised a mission&nbsp;to create a fire line to keep the flames from reaching and destroying the southern part of the city. It's a&nbsp;noble cause, to be sure, but it's the execution that really astounds. Hildreth's plan: blow up entire&nbsp;streets' worth of buildings to beat the fire at its own game. The ashen rubble from the intentional&nbsp;explosions would deprive the fire of fuel and stop it in its tracks without anything to burn. Basically his&nbsp;plan was to destroy the city before the fire could, no big deal. Let me point out that in 1871, the only&nbsp;thing available to blow stuff up with was gunpowder. This is part of why Hildreth's character is so&nbsp;popular--it takes a certain kind of person to run around with a hundred kegs of gunpowder when the&nbsp;sky is raining fire in every direction. I wanted to see what the real Hildreth had to say about his&nbsp;experiences fighting The Great Fire with, well, more fire. Thanks to director/playwright John Musial's&nbsp;extensive research (the script has four pages of Works Cited endnotes to look through), I knew I had to&nbsp;find the city's official Inquiry into the Cause of the Chicago Fire. Anyone can find the transcript of the&nbsp;Inquiry at the Chicago History Museum's Research Center. On Wednesdays, it's open until 4:30pm,&nbsp;which is fortuitous because my call at the theater is at 5 o'clock.</p><p>It was a while after the fire started in the O'Leary's barn on DeKoven street late on Sunday,&nbsp;October 8, 1871 (true story, although we'll never know if it was the fault of the cow for sure) that&nbsp;Hildreth suspected that the conflagration was getting worse and out of the firefighters' control.&nbsp;According to his official testimony, he found the fire marshal and told him of his demolition idea,&nbsp;but "the marshal felt as though the blowing up of the buildings was a matter that he did not&nbsp;understand," probably because it was a totally counter-intuitive firefighting method, proposed by a total&nbsp;stranger. Our man Hildreth could not be discouraged, however, and he eventually got permission--and&nbsp;the gunpowder--for his stunt from the mayor, Roswell B. Mason. The fire had crossed the river at that&nbsp;point, and was spreading faster with every passing minute. Mayor Mason desperately told&nbsp;Hildreth, "Go on and do something!"</p><p>So Hildreth took action, in the most kickass way imaginable. He gathered up anyone who&nbsp;seemed willing to help him collect the kegs and distribute them--a difficult task because "the&nbsp;word 'powder' was a terror" to most people he came across. To protect the gunpowder from the&nbsp;continuous shower of cinders and coals, Hildreth used his coat to cover the kegs "if we had time," and&nbsp;went about his business of destruction. He smashed the kegs in with his own foot to effectively spread&nbsp;the powder around. When he couldn't find anyone to give him fuses, he rolled his own out of pieces of&nbsp;paper, sprinkled gunpowder on them, lit them up, and ran away. Hildreth blew up about thirty to forty&nbsp;buildings in this manner during the Great Chicago Fire. He couldn't pin down an exact number and&nbsp;admitted that he "drank more than the firemen did" the entire evening. Hildreth was apparently such a&nbsp;pyrotechnics expert that he offered his (unsolicited) advice on how he would blow up the very building&nbsp;his hearing was conducted in--always put the powder on the first floor, never the basement. As to the&nbsp;effectiveness of his methods, Hildreth said his work spoke for himself: "If you went through and&nbsp;noticed...the buildings were thrown flat to the ground, and the flames and everything were smothered&nbsp;together in the debris." Whether or not Hildreth actually did much to stop the fire is unclear. While&nbsp;much of the South Division of the city was spared, it's more likely to be due to the weather--the wind&nbsp;simply wasn't blowing the fire in that direction. Although Hildreth's story is undeniably awesome, this&nbsp;may be the reason it's not often a part of the general historical Great Fire narrative.</p><p>In our production of <em>The Great Fire</em>, the actors carry around small barrel kegs&nbsp;with "GUNPOWDER" spray-painted on them. They are apparently so realistic that a terror threat was&nbsp;called into the FBI after they were spotted in the back seat of the assistant prop designer's car parked&nbsp;near the John Hancock Building, where Lookingglass's administrative offices are located. While it&nbsp;resulted in a bit of a tense situation, the misunderstanding was cleared up quickly--they are entirely&nbsp;fake props, and while gunpowder worked for Hildreth in 1871, it isn't usually anyone's first choice for&nbsp;effective destruction in our time. I won't reveal how we dramatize Hildreth's explosions in the play,&nbsp;partially because I don't want to spoil the trick, but I also couldn't tell you what it looks like because I&nbsp;never see it. My fellow run crew member Todd and I "set off" the trick, and then, like Hildreth himself&nbsp;did 140 years ago, run to get the hell out of the way.</p><p><em>For more reading, check out:</em></p><p>City of Chicago. "James Hildreth Testimony." Inquiry into Cause of Chicago Fire and Actions of Fire&nbsp;Department Therein, December&nbsp;1871. Vol. 3, pp. 123-. Transcribed by Richard F. Bales in 2002.</p><p>Musial, John. <em>The Great Fire</em>. 2011. Adapted/revised from original 1999 script and production.</p><p><em>Ari Clouse received her B.A. in History from the University of Chicago in 2010. She has been a non-Equity stage manager in Chicago for the past five years. Her days are spent in libraries and her nights are spent in theaters.&nbsp;</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 07 Oct 2011 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-07/what-you-probably-didnt-know-about-great-chicago-fire-92890 Critics theater picks; early Halloween, Chicago Dance Crash(es), and 'Brand' yourself http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-28/critics-theater-picks-early-halloween-chicago-dance-crashes-and-bra <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-29/dancecrash.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p>If the essence of Halloween is violence and terror (rather than candy, as I firmly believe), the Chicago theater community is getting into the ghoulish swing a bit early this year.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-28/riffraff.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 203px; height: 300px;" title=""><a href="http://maryarrchie.com/now.html">Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company just opened <strong><em>Riff Raff</em></strong></a><em> </em>by the actor Laurence Fishburne, about a drug deal gone bad. If the description fails to spook you, check out the blood-spattered poster. But don't wait til Fright Night: the play only runs through October 30, Thursdays-Sundays at Angel Island on WEST Sheridan Road. $18-$22, with student and senior discounts available.</p><p>If what you want is Halloween pure and simple, and with a local twist, try <a href="http://www.screamsinthepark.com/HOME.html"><strong>Screams in the Park</strong> at Rosemont,</a> a haunted house which claims to have reconstructed the lair of serial killer H.H. Holmes (<em><a href="http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/devilinthewhitecity/home.html">The Devil in the White City</a></em>) in a suburban parking lot. It opens tomorrow (Friday) and runs through October 31 (natch), Tuesdays-Sundays. $20, or $30 if you want to skip the line and go straight to having your heart stopped. Not recommended for children under 13.&nbsp;</p><p>Finally, if you need some solace after all these things going bump in the night, you might consider <a href="http://www.atcweb.org/bxo/nowplay.php">American Theatre Company's <strong><em>The Amish Project</em></strong></a><em>.</em> What could be more peaceful? But don't be fooled: this is the Chicago premiere of a play about a schoolyard massacre and its sequelae and--to quote the press release--about "the limits of forgiveness." I guess. Through October 23 at ATC; tickets $10-$40.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-28/dancecrash.jpg" style="width: 448px; height: 500px;" title="Bubble Chest Bump with Jessica Deahr, Mary Tarpley "></p><p>Who could resist a show called “Immediate Gratification”?<strong> <a href="http://chicagodancecrash.com/">Chicago Dance Crash</a></strong> is billing it as “the self-proclaimed TV dinner of dance productions,” dedicated entirely to those with short attention spans. Guest choreographer Harrison McEldowney contributes an ode to, uh, self-love. And Paul Christiano both directs and choreographed several of the works, including <em>ADHDivas</em>, <em>Tyranny of the Geek</em>, and <em>101 Cures for Boredom</em>, which manages to incorporate Nerf guns and bubble wrap. Check out <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/dance/14937853/preview-chicago-dance-crash-immediate-gratification">Zac Whittenberg’s excellent <em>TimeOut </em>preview</a> of the show, which runs Friday and Saturday at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.</p><p><a href="http://www.lunanegra.org/">Luna Negra Dance Theater celebrates <strong><em>mujeres</em></strong></a> in a program of three works choreographed or inspired by women. Guest choreographer Asun Noales, head of Spain’s <a href="http://www.otradanza.es/">Otra Danza</a>, contributes the new <em>Juana</em>, based on the story of Juana la Loca (“Joanna the Mad”), a 16th-century Spanish queen whose “madness” may have been a matter of political convenience to her enemies. A new piece by Luna Negra artistic director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, <em>Not Everything</em>, was inspired by the work of photographer Graciela Iturbide, and former company member Michelle Manzanales reprises her dance based on four Frida Kahlo self-portraits, <em>Paloma Querida&nbsp;</em>(“Beloved Dove”). Saturday only at the Harris.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p>On October 8, 1871, the City of Chicago went up in flames in a holocaust that burned for three days and went down in the history books. (Never mind that an even worse fire, with a greater loss of life, was burning at the same time up in Wisconsin.) You can spend the precise 140th anniversary of that event watching <a href="http://www.lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/the_great_fire"><em><strong>The Great Fire</strong></em></a> at Lookingglass Theatre in the Water Tower Pumping Station, one of the few buildings to survive the fire.<em> The Great Fire</em>, written and directed by John Musial, opens this weekend and runs through Nov. 20. Lookingglass is devoting its entire 24th season to history, mostly Chicago history and disastrous Chicago history at that!</p><p>Before he began to write socially-radical realistic dramas in the 1870's, such as <em>A Doll House</em>, Henrik Ibsen was writing heroic tragedies in verse and epic plays of Norwegian history. One example, his seldom-seen <a href="http://redtapetheatre.org/on-stage/"><strong><em>Brand</em></strong></a>, is receiving a rare production by Red Tape Theatre Company at St. Peter's Church (621 W. Belmont). Appropriate to the venue, <em>Brand </em>concerns a moralistic minister who's certain belief in a God of Vengeance rather than a God of Love costs him everything. <em>Brand </em>continues through Oct. 29. Another sprawling early Ibsen drama, the folkloric and picaresque <em>Peer Gynt</em>, will be staged Nov. 15-Dec. 18 by Polarity Ensemble Theatre at the City's Storefront Theater.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/A6kqP3Zvpuc" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-28/critics-theater-picks-early-halloween-chicago-dance-crashes-and-bra Musical variety and station breaks: the 2011 Tony Awards http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-13/musical-variety-and-station-breaks-2011-tony-awards-87756 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-13/Tony Awards 2011 Colbert_Getty_Andrew H. Walker.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-13/Tony Awards 2011_Getty_Andrew H. Walker.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 374px; " title="(Getty/Andrew H. Walker)"></p><p>The 65th annual Tony Awards have come and gone. One understands the logic behind the televised awards program on CBS, but that doesn't mean one likes it or agrees with it.</p><p>It's been more than a few years since the telecast was re-fashioned primarily as a musical variety show and only secondarily as an awards ceremony. This decision was made consciously by those who present the Tony telecast: the American Theatre Wing, the Broadway League and CBS. The Broadway League saw an opportunity to use the Tony Awards to market Broadway productions (both in New York and touring shows) while CBS saw it as a way to improve ratings.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-13/Tony Awards 2011 Harris_Getty_Andrew H. Walker.jpg" style="width: 309px; height: 394px; margin: 7px; float: right;" title="(Getty/Andrew H. Walker)">As a musical variety show, the broadcast was good. Neil Patrick Harris was charming and funny (good writing) as the emcee and closed the evening with a really clever pseudo-rap number.</p><p>The program rolled out star after star (especially if they had an affiliation with CBS) from Hugh Jackman to Vanessa Redgrave, from Chris Rock to Angela Lansbury and from Daniel Radcliffe to Whoopi Goldberg.</p><p>And the big production numbers from Broadway shows looked and sounded exciting, colorful and mostly funny as very little time was spent on anything serious or romantic.</p><p>But the program makes time for musical variety by (1) presenting half the award categories off-air during the extended commercial breaks, and (2) spending vastly reduced time on non-musical Broadway productions--you know, plays?--which are promoted in :30 summaries rather than by presenting scenes from them.</p><p>Instead, this year's Tony Awards saw fit to offer musical numbers from shows that weren't even in the running for a Tony Award such as <em>Memphis</em> (honored with a Tony last year) and <em>Spider Man</em>, which hasn't even opened on Broadway.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-13/Tony Awards 2011 Spider Man_Getty_Andrew H. Walker.jpg" style="width: 195px; height: 294px; margin: 7px; float: left;" title="(Getty/Andrew H. Walker)">Then, there were totally extraneous moments such as a song-and-dance duet between Neil Patrick Harris and former host Hugh Jackman, and a four-minute monologue by John Leguizamo from his show <em>Ghetto Klown</em>, which closes July 10.&nbsp;</p><p>Please understand: this was good material and a pleasure to watch, but every second of it meant a second less to honor actual Tony Award nominees and winners.</p><p>Among honors most egregiously relegated to the station breaks were a lifetime achievement Tony Award for Athol Fugard, one of the most influential playwrights of the 20th Century who helped bring down apartheid in his native South Africa, and the Tony Award for Regional Theatre, won this year by Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company.</p><p>Naturally, I'm partial towards Lookingglass, but even so the Regional Theatre Tony is the one-and-only Tony that's (1) truly national in character (vs. Broadway local), and (2) dedicated to a non-profit theater company vs. commercial theater interests.</p><p>The Lookingglass ensemble includes a genuine TV star, company co-founder David Schwimmer, as well as writer/director Mary Zimmerman, who has won two Tony Awards herself. A nano-second of creative thinking suggests that the Tony Folks might have had them present the Regional Theatre Tony Award to their own troupe, and to do it on-air.</p><p>The telecast producers cite time as the deciding factor in relegating categories to station breaks. Even so, the telecast ran about seven minutes long as each extraneous entertainment segment takes as much time, roughly, as presenting two awards would take.</p><p>As for ratings, well, sorry, but the Tony Awards are NOT the Academy Awards and never will be as long as theater remains essentially local (one production opens in one theater in one city) vs. global (a big movie opens on 1500 screens in one day). I do not need to see the overnight Arbitrons or Nielsons to guarantee that the final NBA championship game on ABC slaughtered the Tony Awards in the ratings. The only question is whether <em>America's Got Talent</em> on NBC did too.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 12:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-13/musical-variety-and-station-breaks-2011-tony-awards-87756 Entire Lookingglass Ensemble--minus one--in New York for Tony Awards http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-11/entire-lookingglass-ensemble-minus-one-new-york-tony-awards-87735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-13/Lookingglass Theater_Getty_Jason Kempin.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="Members of Chicago's Lookingglass Theater at the Tony Awards Sunday. " class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-13/Lookingglass Theater_Getty_Jason Kempin.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 365px; border-width: 5px; border-style: solid; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="(Getty/Jason Kempin)"></p><p>David Kersnar was the only guy minding the store at <strong>Lookingglass Theatre Company</strong> Saturday night, just 24 hours before the company was to receive the <strong>2011 Tony Award</strong> as Outstanding Regional Theatre.</p><p>He was the only one of the troupe's 38 ensemble members and affiliate artists who was on hand in Chicago to oversee the opening night of <em>The Last Act of Lilka Kadison</em>, the world premiere play closing the Lookingglass season.</p><p>Kersnar kinda-sorta-hadda be there as co-author and director of the show. What's unusual, and lucky, is that no members of the ensemble are in the four-person cast (a very small one by Lookingglass standards).</p><p>"So, you're the one who got stuck in Chicago!" I greeted him.</p><p>"Yeah, and everyone's tweeting me from New York right now," Kersnar replied. "They're having a party with our Board of Directors. But I'm on a 7AM flight to New York tomorrow. The entire ensemble will be there except Tom Cox, who's in the show at Northlight with John Mahoney and Rondi Reed. He has a performance tomorrow."</p><p>I said that if the Tony Awards followed the usual pattern, only two or three company representatives would actually be onstage to receive the award.</p><p>"That's right," he said. "The rest of us will be up in the cheering section. I think there will be four of us accepting the award: Andy (Andrew White, artistic director), Phil (Philip R. Smith, producing artistic director), Heidi (Heidi Stillman, artistic director of new work) and Rachel (Rachel E. Kraft, executive director)."</p><p>Like Kersnar, who served as Lookingglass artistic director for several years, White, Smith and Stillman are company co-founders. The numerous variations on the artistic director title create an unusual flow chart for a theater company, but it seems to work for Lookingglass.</p><p>For those of you watching the Tony Awards on TV Sunday night (7PM Chicago time), don't hold your breath waiting for The Big Moment. The Regional Theatre Tony will be presented to the live New York audience during a commercial break in the broadcast, and then a short clip of it--perhaps 30 seconds at most--will be aired later on. Don't blink or you might miss it.</p><p>FYI: many loyal Lookingglass friends and supporters will be gathering Sunday night at Rockit Bar &amp; Grill (22 W. Hubbard Street) for a Tony Awards party.</p></p> Sun, 12 Jun 2011 04:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-11/entire-lookingglass-ensemble-minus-one-new-york-tony-awards-87735